Croatia reached the World Cup semi-finals for just the second time in their history as an independent nation by beating the hosts Russian Federation in Sochi. Fast forward just over 28 years and on Wednesday evening in Moscow they will play one again.
Now, almost 30 years on, they have another semi-final date. “Those who were ready took them”.
The third thing which was needed in this accumulator was for England’s Harry Maguire to score a header, and the Leicester City man did so in powerful fashion in Samara.
Russia’s hopes of a home-country World Cup championship have ended with a loss to Croatia and plenty of tears, but the country’s leaders, citizens, and even a prominent opposition activist expressed gratitude to the overachieving soccer squad.
The game was hardly the most exciting 120 minutes of football, although it was still better than France vs Denmark, and the teams couldn’t be separated in “normal” time.
Russian Federation opened the scoring in the 31minutes through Denis Cheryshev.
France are perhaps peaking ahead of their time, with Didier Deschamps’ young team viewed by many as not likely to mature into potential World Cup winners until Qatar 2022.
In extra time, Subasic blocked and smothered Daler Kuziaev’s attempt, which appeared to be a game-saver until Fernandes came unmarked on a free kick and his header to the far post couldn’t be stopped in the 115th minute.
“We saw how good they are from dead balls so will have to focus more on defending set-pieces because we conceded from a set-piece today, so have to improve that element of our game”. The host nation lost 4-3 the penalty shootout, which followed 2-2 draw in the regular and 30-minute overtime period.
Spain had a staggering 75 percent possession but found no way past Russia’s hard-working defence, bowing out when keeper Igor Akinfeev saved two spot kicks in the shoot-out.
Brazilian born Mário Fernandes scored Alan Dzagoev’s free-kick which landed in the bottom left corner.
After Croatia won the penalty shootout she went to the team’s changing rooms to give them hugs and congratulate the coach and players.
Modric has scored two of Croatia’s eight goals en route to the quarter-final, and Rakitic spoke of the 32-year-old’s importance in Spanish football. The victor of this game will play the victor of the Sweden-England game in the semi-finals.